Glencoe holds off a late surge by Forest Grove to remain unbeaten in conference play this season

The margin of victory was not one that has been customary of late for the Glencoe softball team, but the result was the same.

Battling Forest Grove on its home field Monday, the Crimson Tide built up a 4-0 lead but gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning before holding on for a key 4-3 victory.

The win solidified Glencoe’s hold on first place in the Pacific Conference. Heading into Wednesday’s round of games, the Tide were a perfect 10-0 in league play, 19-1 overall and second to North Medford in the OSAA rankings.

“A little more exciting than we wanted it,” Tide coach Jacy Jukkala said.

But a narrow win is still a win, and Glencoe could likely benefit from playing in a close game or two, something the team has not experienced much of lately. In fact, prior to Monday’s game, Glencoe had not won by fewer than three runs in almost a month. On April 1, the Tide knocked off St. Helens 3-2 in eight innings, and they followed that with a 1-0 win against Hermiston two days later.

In the first round of conference play, Glencoe defeated Forest Grove 8-1. This time was much closer, though Glencoe asserted itself relatively early with two runs in top of the third inning. Maria Dendinger, who had three RBIs in the game, got the first two of them with a double to drive in Morgan Brown and Katie Sutherland-Finch, who had each gotten on with base hits.

Two innings later, the Tide got the cushion they would turn out to need. Courtney Clayton led off the inning with a triple and then Sutherland-Finch brought her home with a double in the next at-bat. Misty Wilson, who came on as a courtesy runner for Sutherland-Finch, moved to third base on Kylie Surratt’s groundout and then home on Dendinger’s sacrifice fly to put the lead at 4-0.

That seemed a pretty comfortable advantage for Glencoe, but the Lady Vikings went down fighting — and swinging. After struggling to get its offense on track for much of the contest, Forest Grove sprang to life in the bottom of the sixth.

With two outs, Molly Johnson smacked a single up the middle and then stole second base. Alexis Richey drew a walk in four pitches from Sutherland-Finch to put runners on first and second, and then Shelby Turner sent the first pitch she saw from the Glencoe ace into left-center for a two-run single to halve the Crimson Tide’s lead.

One pitch and one batter later, Kira Hein heightened the drama when she sent a shot deep into right field for an RBI triple. Rather than holding Hein up at third base, Forest Grove coach Trevor Tusow signaled for the senior to keep running, but she could not quite turn her hit into an inside-the-park home run when Glencoe’s relay throw beat her to the plate for the out.

“They’re a good team, and they focus on putting the bat on the ball,” Jukkala said about Forest Grove. “They strung a couple together and did a good job. They’ll be a playoff contender. They’re a good team.”

After being held scoreless in the top of the seventh, Glencoe got out of the game when Sutherland-Finch retired three straight batters by strikeout. For the contest, Sutherland-Finch fanned 18 while allowing four hits and two walks.

“They keep working hard, and we’ll get there,” Jukkala said of her squad. “We’ve got stuff we come out of every night that we’ve got to work on.”

Glencoe is scheduled to host Newberg today before hitting the road next Tuesday for a showdown with second-place Tualatin and rounding out league play Thursday against Tigard.

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